Animals in Your Make-Up?Discover 5 of the Hottest Clean, Cruelty-free, Vegan Make-up Brands

Cruelty-Free Beauty

Photo Credit: @oladimeg

Who doesn’t love a little glamour? Whether it’s subtle make-up for the office or sultry make-up for that special date, we all love to put our face on… but is your make-up harming animals? There’s an ugly truth lurking behind the products we use to make ourselves more beautiful. In this article I’m going to share with you some of the animal-derived ingredients commonly found in make-up, and show you how you can avoid them by opting for cruelty-free vegan make-up brands. Animals in your make-up? Yes, animals are harmed in the production of your make-up, both directly and indirectly. Directly, because many conventional toiletries and cosmetics contain ingredients that come from animals - animals are tortured or have to die for manufacturers to get their hands on these ingredients. Indirectly, because these products, and even some that do not contain animal products, are often tested on animals.

How bad can it be? You might even smile at the thought of a mascara being tested on animals. I mean, what are they doing? Giving a rabbit longer lashes or something? No, unfortunately. Did you know that over 200,00 animals suffer and die every year because of cosmetic animal testing, in the US alone? Mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters are trapped in barren cages in laboratories all over the country. Lonely, in pain, and frightened, all they can do is wait for the next torturous experiment. Most of them are so distressed they develop disordered behaviors, like pulling out their own fur, biting themselves, or ceaselessly spinning in circles. And after a short life of pain, fear and misery, they are killed.
The kinds of experiments these animals have to endure cause unimaginable pain and distress - blindness, sore or bleeding skin, organ damage, internal bleeding, and death.

Some of the tests they have to endure include:
• Skin and eye irritation tests, where chemicals are rubbed onto shaved skin or into the eyes.

• Force-feeding studies, where animals are force-fed a product for weeks or months to see if it causes illness.

• Lethal dose tests, where animals are forced to swallow huge amounts of a chemical to determine what dose causes death.

There is no pain-relief provided to the animals, and at the end of the tests they are killed by neck-breaking, decapitation, or asphyxiation. That’s why it is so important to choose brands that do not test on animals. But beware, those products might still contain animal-derived ingredients.

Yes, it’s sad but true, animal farming by-products are used in the manufacture of the cosmetics we use every day. Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid if you want to veganize your beauty routine. Not all of these come solely from animals, some can be plant-derived - which makes it quite confusing when you’re scanning the ingredient labels!
That’s why it’s so much easier to buy from cruelty-free make-up brands, that way you’re assured that none of the ingredients have caused harm to animals. Skip to the end of the article for my favorite vegan make-up brands. Animal-derived ingredients in your cosmetics Albumen and albumin usually extracted from egg whites, albumen is used as a coagulant in cosmetics.

  • Allantoin, this is uric acid from cattle. It’s used in creams and lotions.

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids Derived from lactic acid, which may be animal-derived. Used in exfoliating and anti-wrinkle products.

  • Ambergris This comes from whales’ intestines and is used as a perfume fixer. Arachidonic acid Found in the liver, brain, glands and fat of animals. Often used in skin creams and lotions for treating eczema and rashes.

  • Beeswax This is made by melting down honeycomb. It’s found in lipsticks, face creams, lotions, mascara, lip balms and eye shadow.

  • Biotin found in milk and yeast. Used in make-up, shampoo and face creams.

  • Caprylic acid, caprylic triglyceride, caprylamine oxide and capryl betaine Can be made from cow’s or goat’s milk - but also palm or coconut oil.

  • Carmine, cochineal, carminic acid Made from the crushed cochineal beetle. It takes over 70000 beetles to make one pound of this red dye, which is then used in shampoos and cosmetics.

  • Castor and castoreum From the genitals of muskrats and beavers. Used to fix perfume.

  • Cerebrosides These are fatty acids found in animal nerves. Used in moisturizers.

  • Chitosan, this is used as a binder in hair and skincare products. It is made from crustacean shells.

  • Civet, used as a fixative in perfumes, this substance comes from the genitals of civet cats.

  • Collagen, usually derived from animal tissues. Used in anti-aging products.

  • Cysteine, L-Form Amino acid usually derived from animals. Used in haircare products, cream, and wound-healing gels.

  • Elastin Found in the neck ligaments of cows. Similar to collagen and therefore added to anti-aging creams. Fish scales These are used in shimmery make-up.

  • Gelatin, used in shampoos, face masks, and creams. It is obtained by boiling the skin, ligaments and tendons of pigs and cows.

  • Glycerin, glyceryls, glycereth-26, glycerol Used in make-up, creams, soaps. This is a by-product of soap manufacture (which usually uses animal fat).

  • Guanine Made from fish scales. Used in shampoos, nail varnish and make-up.

  • Hyaluronic acid can be animal derived, from the umbilical cords and joint fluid. Used in cosmetics.

  • Keratin Comes from ground up horns, hair, hooves, feathers and quills of various animals. Used in shampoo, conditioner, and hair fixing products.

  • Lactic acid Can come from animal blood and muscle tissue. Found in face freshener sprays. Lactose Comes from milk. Found in make-up and eye lotions.

  • Lanolin, aliphatic alcohols, cholesterin, isopropyl lanolate, laneth, lanogene, lanosterols, sterols, triterpene alcohols This is made from the oil glands of sheep. Used as an emollient in make-up and face creams.

  • Lecithin, comes from the animals’ nervous tissues, sometimes obtained from eggs. Found in liquid foundation, hand creams, eye creams, lipsticks and shampoo.

  • Hydrolyzed milk protein From cattle. Used in shampoos, moisturizers, conditioners and make-up.

  • Musk is obtained from the genitals of deer, beavers, muskrats, civet rats and otters. Animals are whipped around their genitals to produce the musk. Used in perfumes and cosmetics.

  • Myristic acid, isopropyl myristate, myristal ether sulphate, myristyls, oley myristate Occasionally from animals. Used in cosmetics, creams and shampoos.

  • Oleic acid usually obtained from inedible tallow. Used in soaps, hair fixing products, creams, nail varnish, and lipsticks.

  • Palmitic acid most often derived from palm oil but can also come from animals. Used in creams and shampoos.

  • Panthenol, dexpanthenol, Vitamin B, provitamin B5 Can come from animal sources. Used in shampoos.

  • Placenta or placenta polypeptides protein From the uterus of slaughtered animals. Often used in face creams, shampoos and face masks.

  • Propolis is gathered by bees as a sealant. Found in toothpaste, deodorant and shampoos.

  • Retinol Animal-derived vitamin A. RNA, ribonucleic acid Found in all living cells. Used in protein shampoos and make-up.

  • Royal jelly From the throat glands of worker bees. Destined to feed the larvae in a colony. Used in cosmetics and face creams.

  • Shellac is excreted from certain insects. Used in hair lacquer.

  • Silk Obtained by boiling silk worms in their cocoons. Used in face powders and soaps.

  • Snails used in some cosmetics and anti-wrinkle gels.

  • Stearic acid, stearamide, stearamine, stearates, stearic hydrazide, stearone, stearoxytrimethylsilane, stearoyl lactylic acid, stearyl betaine, stearyl imidazoline Can be animal derived from pigs, sheep and cows. Used in soaps, cosmetics, conditioners, hairspray, and creams.

  • Stearyl alcohol, stearamine oxide, stearyl acetate, stearyl caprylate, stearyl citrate, steayldimethyl amine, stearyl glycyrrhetinate, stearyl heptanoate, stearyl octanoate, stearyl stearate Sometimes made from sperm whale oil. Used in creams and shampoos.

  • Steroids, sterols can come from animal glands. Used in creams, lotions, conditioners, perfumes. Tallow, sodium tallowate, tallow acid, tallow amine, talloweth-6, tallow glycerides, tallow imidazoline Comes from beef fat. Can be found in soap, lipstick, and make-up.

  • Tyrosine is sometimes hydrolyzed from milk. Found in cosmetics and creams. Urea, carbamide, imidazolidinyl urea, uric acid Sometimes extracted from the urine and other bodily fluids of animals. Found in hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos.

  • Vitamin A can come from eggs, butter, and fish liver oil. Found in make-up, face creams, perfumes, hair colorings.

  • Wax can come from animals. Used in lipsticks, hair removal products, and hair straighteners. And this is without mentioning the toxic chemicals that can actually irritate your skin and harm your health.

  • Head to this blog post to find out which ones you need to avoid.

  • The good news is that we’re no longer in the dark ages, and an increasing number of us are refusing to wear make-up that contributes to animal cruelty. And now, we don’t have to, because many cruelty-free beauty brands have emerged to ensure that we can still put our best face forward, while respecting our planet and the animals.

    Here are my top 5

    Juice Beauty

    Founded by wellness entrepreneur Karen Behnke, Juice Beauty strives to do the impossible: provide healthy skincare that delivers real results. And, since 2005, they’ve done just that. Their revolutionary formulations come from the power of plants: an antioxidant and vitamin-rich organic botanical juice provides the base for most of their products. This is award-winning stuff, 100% organic, and ethical. They purchase most of their ingredients from US farmers, use sustainable containers and print with soy ink. They also support non-profit organizations like Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and the Environmental Working Group. Cosmetics with a conscience!

    100% Pure Pure by name, pure by nature. The founders of 100% Pure are committed to producing the purest, healthiest products, made with compassion and kindness for the animals, the people, and the planet. Their products are made from completely natural ingredients that are fermented, distilled or cold-processed - no toxic or harsh chemicals here! My personal favorite: the 2nd’ Skin Corrector - ultra blendable correctors made with fruit and superfood pigments to brighten your complexion, banish dark circles and cover redness.


    When it comes to plant-based, cruelty-free lipstick, Axiology’s got you covered. They’ve created the first ever 10-ingredient lipstick, which does not compromise on coverage, color or quality. Axiology founder Ericka Rodriguez believes that make-up should be safe for the people who wear it, those who make it, the animals AND the planet. I absolutely love that mission! Axiology aims to be the cleanest, most ethical lipstick in the world. When you see the range of colors on offer, you’ll be hooked!

    Kat Von D

    If you ever thought vegan make-up was bland, Kat Von D is proof that this belief is completely outdated. This is bold, bright, unapologetic make-up made with love, not animals. Kat Von D believes you should be able to color, contour, and enhance with confidence that the products you’re using are not harming animals. She’s also created a range of fur-free make-up brushes using the highest quality synthetic fibers that work better than animal-based bristles.

    Inika OrganicInika believe that healthy is beautiful. Since 2006, they have been producing pure, organic make-up that is completely free from harmful chemicals. Their ingredients are ethically sourced, natural, and derived from either botanicals or minerals. Not an animal in sight. What’s more, they go to great lengths to ensure they make their products in a sustainable way, by using renewable energy sources and minimizing their consumption of soil, water and energy. This is cruelty-free, planet-friendly make-up that will give you that healthy glow. As you can see, you have a ton of options when it comes to veganizing your make-up bag. So, ditch the animal-derived, chemical-laden products and instead treat your skin to natural, vegan products that will enhance your beauty, protect the animals, and be kind to the planet.